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Economics: Africa


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague takes about 45 minutes.


This course will equip students with both a broad general understanding of African economies and more in-depth knowledge on relevant dynamics in contemporary African political economies in the context of processes of globalization and modernization.
The study of diverse economies in Africa will offer students insights into the (contested) notion of ‘Africa’ as a continent and its relation to processes of ‘globalization’ from the perspective of a diversity of economic dynamics. In particular in the neoliberal era of the late 20th century Africa has alternatively been referred to as a ‘dark’, ‘failed’, or ‘sinking continent’ while more recently the notion of ‘Africa rising’ is used. Whatever the qualifications, Africa constitutes an ‘inconvenient continent’ where the continuing dominance of external economic interests intersects with new as well as longer existing economic spheres. The imbalance between the global North and South is not ‘natural’ or ‘self-evident’ but, rather, the result of a long history of (post)colonial developments which, in Africa, have impacted countries and societies in diverse and sometimes unexpected ways.

The following is a list of issues that will be covered in this course:

  • Introduction to the problematic notion of Africa as a continent.

  • Introduction to debates on the history of the influence of globalization on African economic developments.

  • The influence of global institutions like the IMF, World Bank, etc. on African political economies.

  • Subsistence, Slavery and Socialist economies.

  • Economies of tourism and migration.

  • Economies of cloth and clothing.

  • Occult & Virtual economies (ICT).

  • Agricultural and Extractive economies.

  • Uncaptured and informal economies.

  • The NGO-ization of African economies.

  • Violent & (Im)moral economies.

Course objectives

Students have:

  • Acquired an overview of the historical and contemporary economic developments and political economy dynamics in their chosen area and deepen their existing knowledge and understanding of different economic systems, economic institutions, economic processes and actors in the different regions/countries of the region, using the concepts acquired during the courses Economics and Configuring the World.

  • Been acquainted with academic debates on selected topics in the specific region.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every three weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 24 hours

  • Attending tutorials: 8 hours

  • Assessment hours (midterm and final exam): 4 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: (approximately 7 pages per hour): 64 hours

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 40 hours

Assessment method


  • Midterm exam: Written examination with 50% open questions and 50% closed questions (multiple choice).

  • Final exam: Written examination with 50% open questions and 50% closed questions (multiple choice).


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of tutorial, midterm exam and final exam.

  • The weighted average of the midterm exam and final exam needs to be 5.5 or higher.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), or the weighted average of midterm- and final exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier midterm and final exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the resit exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • James Ferguson, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0822337171 ISBN-10: 0822337177

  • Further material (digital, statistical, written and video) will be distributed during the course and uploaded on Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. C.L.A. Willemse

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.